From the start at crew allocation, our skipper Eric’s stated aim was to win the overall race, not just complete it. Quietly competitive and consistent, we realised by Panama that an overall win was a real possibility, though by no means guaranteed. We had narrowly come second in each of the previous two races, across the Pacific into San Francisco and from there to Panama, both of those times to rivals Great Britain. On longer races particularly it was easy for us to lose focus, but we were good at ocean sprints.
The next race from Panama to Jamaica was about the same distance as an ocean sprint and due to be only a few days of sailing. This explains the team decision to treat the entire race as an ocean sprint.
It meant that for the duration of the race we selected the best people for roles such as helming or trimming. It also meant that for much of the race I felt a little like a spectator. For this reason it wasn’t my favourite of the races I took part in. Not that I know which was my favourite!
So much of the race involved me sitting for hours on end wherever my weight could positively influence our boat speed. Under certain conditions this involved us sitting on the rail. This is the edge of the high side of the boat, aiming to make the hull just that little bit flatter in the water to eke out extra tenths of a knot. In lighter winds our weight was required forward and leeward, conversely to give the hull a slight tilt, but the aim the same.
I would like to say I enjoyed watching the wildlife while I was sitting, but there was very little to be seen in the Caribbean, maybe the odd flying fish!
The last morning of the race was very tense. Here is Sarah’s account of it, although from the perspective of the other watch.
We had to round the south eastern point of Jamaica then turn and raise spinnaker for the final stage to Port Antonio. From early in that morning we had been able to see the sails of Great Britain drawing ever closer. Before we could round the point we had to alter course to avoid what turned out to be a discarded fishing line. This allowed GB to be slightly ahead of us when we reached the point. We set about doing what we did best – catching up with and biding our time to overtake them. We had not worked so hard over the last few days to be pipped at the post! Gybe after gybe we matched them. On one of them we drew ahead and managed to keep that lead, though it was hard to tell. We beat them to San Antonio by 31 seconds!
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